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Windows XP: The Big Picture

Windows XP is supposed to make computing simpler and more fun. If you're upgrading from Windows 98 or Me, it should be more reliable--and less crash-prone.

Why?

First, the core of the operating system is built on Windows NT/2000 technology, which has proven to be more robust and more stable than Windows 95, 98, or Me.

Second, Microsoft wants to validate the quality of third-party drivers, which have caused system instability in the past. Vendors are supposed to submit their drivers to an independent organization called Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL), where they're tested for reliability. You can still install any driver you want, but in Windows XP you'll be warned if the driver hasn't been verified and WHQL-approved.

A New Look

XP has a brighter, cleaner desktop than previous versions of Windows. Icons and mouse pointers have been reworked to take advantage of the high color depths commonly used today.

If you prefer the old Windows 9x/Me look, you can make changes through the Control Panel to get it back. Pick and choose: Individual XP features can be turned off separately to keep the best of Windows XP and still cater to your Windows 9x/Me habits.

A frequently used programs section on the Start menu means your most common applications are one click from the Start button.


Not Just a Face-Lift

XP has more than just a new look. New features let you take advantage of the Internet and the latest hardware. Here are a few of those.

Burn CDs: XP integrates basic CD-burning capability into the Explorer interface (and into the interfaces of third-party apps).

Remote assistance: XP systems can troubleshoot remote Windows XP computers.

Internet: The Home Networking Wizard helps all your computers share an Internet connection. Internet Connection Firewall protects always-on connections, such as cable modems, from attacks. Internet Explorer 6.0 allows cookies to be set based on each site's privacy policy.

Share a PC: Upgraders from the Windows 98/Me camp will find it easier to share a single PC with multiple users, thanks to a new log-on screen and simplified user-administration tools.

Media: The new user interface makes it easier to manage images from still and video cameras. You'll also find a new version of Windows Media Player.

Switching to XP

If you're migrating from the already-stable Windows 2000, you'll benefit from XP's support for a wider variety of hardware and software.

Decided to leave your old PC behind and buy a new PC with Windows XP installed? XP's new Migration Wizard will help you move data and settings (but not the applications themselves) from your old PC to the new one.

--Dave Methvin

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